Usually the main danger when Remnants plays FAS is of being out-classed - with a line-up of quality coached cricketers it's not surprising that they haven't lost a game to anyone since we defeated them back in 2010 - but today the main risk seemed to be of not playing at all. While most members of both teams made it to Fitz by about 6pm, the toss didn't happen 'til about a quarter past, and it was after 6:20pm by the time the first ball was sent down.
We'd chosen to field, in part because FAS were still a bit short even at the delayed start time, but then to our embarrassment a quick count-up at the end of the first over revealed that we had just ten men, one of our selected eleven having failed to show up. That led to Daniel Mortlock running on and off the field in an effort to chase up the errant player and try and arrange a subsitute fielder - initially FAS didn't have enough spare players to give us a sub, but Daniel then solved that problem by bowling one of their openers, thus freeing up the extra player we needed. The player in question, Dave Harrop, took his golden duck with the sort of grace one doesn't normally associate with teenage boys, and fielded for us for the rest of the innings. He did brilliantly, but he wasn't alone, as the ten actual Remnants on the field also put in fantastic performances of their own. For once the numbers didn't lie: to keep a very strong FAS batting line-up to double figures was a scarcely believeable effort, especially when their number three, George Houghton, hit 50 off just 37 balls. George excepted, though, we kept all the batsmen quiet - Joe White, with 5* off 5 balls in the last few overs, was the only other to player to even get his strike-rate up to 100.00.
This all stemmed from the fact that nobody really bowled more than a few bad balls: Atta Rehman (0/21), Eli Ellwood (1/18), Dave Norman (2/18) and Daniel (2/15) were all tight; and Richard Rex (3/8) was a relevation as he deceived the FAS middle order with a bewitching sequence of well-flut leg-breaks and celebratory jigs. And the fielders backed up the bowlers brilliantly, although curiously all the catches went to bowlers: Richard took a superb catch as he back-pedalled while the ball was being blown further and further over his head; Dave Norman pulled off the opposite trick as he kept coming in to meet a big drive that held up in the wind; and Daniel took a diving return chance that Dave uncharitably suggested looked like he'd fallen off his bar stool. Wicket-keeper Andy Owen should have been in on the action, too, when he whipped off the bails after Rob Harvey had rocked forward out of his crease - the "not out" decision would have been understandable if Rob had subsequently regained his ground, but given that he'd held his pose with heel raised it was a bit hard to fathom. Still, that was in the last over and didn't really have any bearing on proceedings - far more important was the great ground-fielding throughout, with the likes of John Richer, Michael McCann and Dave Green all turning twos into ones and ones into dots.
Dots, unfortunately, were very much the story of our innings. (Apologies for the abrupt change of narrative, but From Dusk 'Til Dawn was on the TV last night.) From the very start of our innings we just never looked like chasing even the decidedly sub-par target of 96. Of the 20 overs FAS bowled 8 yielded just 2 (or fewer) runs, and the running totals make disastrously soporific reading: 12/2 off 4 overs; 31/4 off 9 overs; 51/5 off 15 overs. Of the top order only John Richer (11 off 21 balls) and Andy Owen (26 off 34 balls) had made it into double figures, and their strike rates of 52.38 and 76.47 were actually the highest of the top six. In Michael McCann's case, the explanation for his rather abbreviated innings of 2 (off 6 balls) might have been that he was in a rush to head off on a date, but the broader problem was that we were having to deal with a combination of excellent bowling and an old ball that was keeping very low. Still, the sense was that we really should have been able to turn the strike over a bit more effectively than we had - even just one more quick single per over would have kept us in the lead.
As it was, though, we were almost certainly stuffed, needing 47 off 30 balls with two new batsmen at the crease. Daniel Mortlock (20* off 18 balls) slogged with some success (and some luck) and Dave Norman (11 off 7 balls) punished any errors in length; between them they at least managed to take the game into the last over, which began with 16 needed. A scampered single and some big hits from Dave meant that had turned into 9 needed off 3 with, critically, Dave on strike . . . but he came down the track to a shooter and was stumped. Eli Ellwood (4* off 2 balls) managed one of the two boundaries that we needed, but the other ball was a dot, meaning that we finished 4 frustrating runs short.